Kady White, a 35-year-old mother in Dallas, had never had health issues before giving birth to her daughter, who is now 16 months old. But pregnancy and childbirth wreaked havoc on her body in unexpected — and possibly permanent — ways.
“When I went back to work, I noticed I was having trouble focusing on the computer screen and having to squint a lot,” White said. “I went to the eye doctor and they said the condition I had during pregnancy, preeclampsia … apparently it messed with the blood vessels behind my eyes and affected my vision.”
The pregnancy complication, which can cause dangerously high blood pressure, has never fully resolved itself. White still has high blood pressure and is on heart medication indefinitely.
“It’s not just like stretch marks or weight changes — it’s so much more,” she said. “No woman that does not want to endure that should have to for any reason.”
For some people, experiencing a miscarriage can solidify their belief in reproductive rights. Rachel, a 37-year-old mother of two in northern Virginia, said hers served as a wake-up call for the importance of unrestricted abortion access.
“I had something called a ‘missed miscarriage,’ which is when your body plays a cruel trick on you — at some point you’re pregnant, and at some point, that fetus stops developing,” Rachel, who asked that her last name not be used, said. “You think you’re going to an appointment that’s going to be exciting and joyful, and your world comes crashing down around you.”
Rachel had to get a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C), commonly done after a miscarriage to remove remaining fetal tissue from the uterus. After the news broke Friday of Roe v. Wade being overturned, she worried not only about how it would affect abortion access, but also about the possibility of people being denied medical treatment after a miscarriage.
“It just occurred to me — would this ever get restricted?” she said. “Emotionally, I can’t imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t get this procedure for some reason.”
Ishtar Archer considered abortion when she was pregnant with her first child, but said she ultimately decided to continue her pregnancy. Archer, who lives in North Carolina, has three children and she experienced high-risk pregnancies with all of them.
America has the highest rate of mortality of pregnant people among developed countries, which only drives the argument for pro–abortion rights advocates. In 2020, the mortality rate was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births; in 2019 it was 20.1 per 100,000.
Archer said her third pregnancy was “completely unexpected,” and because she lives in North Carolina, where abortion is only legal until the fetus is viable on its own, she panicked.
“It leads you into a state of panic, and that you need to make an immediate decision,” she said. “Knowing that at some point it could come down to their life or my life … I feel a lot more comfortable saying I’m pro-abortion and having access to it.”